Keiraville school knocks back $50,000

Keiraville Public School principal David O’Connor. Picture: ADAM McLEANKeiraville Public School has been forced to reject $50,000 in government funds after withdrawing from the first round of the NSW government’s controversial education reforms.

The school was one of 15 in the Illawarra to be awarded money through a federal-state government partnership in May, which meant it was one of the first 229 NSW schools to adopt the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms.

The reforms give principals control over 70per cent of their school budgets and allow them to have more control over hiring and firing staff.

Keiraville was awarded $50,000 through the partnership, but due to a lack of support from teachers and parents, it withdrew from the program last term.

Principal David O’Connor declined to be interviewed but said in a statement he was keen to participate in the program but could do so only ‘‘with the majority support of the school community which included staff and parents’’.

‘‘While many in the school community were supportive of taking part, it was not possible to get the level of support required, and a decision was made to withdraw the school’s expression of interest,’’ he said.

‘‘The school may revisit making an application at a later time.’’

In March, Mr O’Connor said he was ‘‘philosophically’’ supportive of the reforms because it made sense ‘‘that the people who know the school and the students the best make those decisions about the direction of their learning’’.

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Nicole Calnan said many teachers, including those at Keiraville, were concerned the reforms would lead to teaching jobs being cut and school budgets being reduced.

She said teachers had not been given enough detail about the reforms, so they had ‘‘no choice but to withdraw their support’’.

Keiraville P&C president Jacqueline Sedgewicke said parents supported the teachers’ decision.

‘‘We have a very open and supportive relationship between the P&C and the teachers and the P&C supports the teachers in the approach they took, as we always have done. Their focus has always been on the best outcomes for our children,’’ she said.

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